Today, we celebrate the solemn feast of Corpus Christi. We give God thanks for Christ’s actual offering of himself in sacrifice for our salvation on Calvary. Christ restores us to life. We are also thankful for his Holy Thursday gift of a sacramental celebration in which he promises to be with us forever giving us the food of eternal life. He lives forever with us.
This year’s readings emphasize the theme of God giving his people food for the journey, the wonderful bread that signifies his constant care for those He loves. On the way to the promised land conditions are difficult yet God is true to his covenant with his people leading them into freedom. In return God asks them to accept life as his gift. Jesus accepts all His Father asks; he is glad to say that he draws life from the Father. For our benefit he followed the traditions of his own people but changed them dramatically. He is the Gift, the new manna from heaven, the new Bread of life.
He changes the Passover into the Eucharist. St Paul tells how the early Christians celebrated the Eucharist by centring their worship on Christ who brings them into communion with God. They went to Mass because they were sure that Jesus draws life from his Father and passes that life on to us. God’s plan is fulfilled in Christ who now invites us to accept him and follow his way of living. Our lives then become a sacrifice, an offering to God, a process of identifying ourselves with Jesus who gave his life in sacrifice for all mankind. We Catholics believe that the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist is the centre of the Christian life because we are enabled to participate in Christ’s offering of himself and pray effectively for others.
The sacrifice of the Mass strengthens our unity with Jesus and each other as we offer ourselves with him to the Father. Those who attend Mass on-line share fully in the Sacrifice which the priest offers to God on behalf of everyone. They make a good resolution to put Jesus into the centre of their daily activity. They draw life from participating in the prayers and offering. The Mass is a memorial of Christ’s total gift of himself for our salvation, reminding us and enabling us to make loving sacrifices for others. A good question to ask today is how will I draw life from Jesus? We can make a spiritual communion to express a deep faith in Christ’s real presence in the blessed Sacrament; we can see Jesus in the people we meet and we can share his mission by receiving from Jesus and giving to others.
To understand the dynamics of sacrifice it is good to remember that we are always in the hands of God. You know the story of the little boy who wants to give his father a birthday present but does not have any money to buy one. His father, realizing his son is too young to make any money, slips him a fiver so that he can do some shopping the next time they are in town. The big day comes, and the little boy proudly presents his father with a beautifully wrapped, birthday gift. He is so very happy and proud of himself. So is his father, proud and happy to have such a loving son.
God sends His Son so that we could have a present to give. Jesus draws life from his Father and places himself in our hands so that we can draw life from him. During each Eucharistic celebration we cheerfully receive this precious Gift from God with praise and thanksgiving. We draw life from Christ and pray for others so that they draw life also from our prayers and our celebration of God’s goodness to all mankind.